Francis Henry Ward was born in Hull in 1893 to Philip Henry Ward, a painter and decorator, and his wife Margaret Elizabeth. He had one older sister, Edith. He was educated in Hull at Clifton Street School and Hull Grammar School and was apprenticed to his father by 1911.
He clearly decided on a career change, for in April 1913 he passed the examination to matriculate at Durham University and began in the Michaelmas term of 1913 as a member of St John’s College and a student of Arts (in litteris antiquis). He passed his first year examination satisfactorily in the Easter term of 1914. He seems to have been very involved in the life of both the University and his college: he was Secretary of the College Sports Fund and the Debating Society, Librarian of the Union Society, and was elected Senior Man of St John’s College in December 1915. He was awarded his B.A. degree on 22 June 1915.
The Durham University Roll of Service (1920) records Francis Ward as having served with the Cyclists Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. By the time of his death in 1917 he was serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own): his service records place him initially in the 10th Battalion and then in the 9th Battalion. The 9th (Service) Battalion formed part of the 69th Brigade of the 23rd Division for the Menin Road operations which began on 20 September 1917.
The following is recorded in the war diary of the 9th Battalion for 24 September 1917: “During the morning enemy shelled the town [Poperinghe], we lost 1 man, wounded. Battalion relieved the 6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders in support near Langemarck”. (WO 95/1809/2). We might presume this is a reference to Francis Ward, although his service medal card and the register of his effects state that he was killed in action that day. The latter is more likely perhaps, as his name is engraved on the Tyne Cot Memorial: either his body was never recovered, or the site of his grave was lost in the fighting. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the roll of honour of Clifton School, and a plaque at the Grammar School in Kingston upon Hull.